Media praise for UNIX Power Tools

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"This book by Peek, O'Reilly and Loukides is an epic in itself. I have seen very few books so thorough, yet so interesting till the last page. The high quality is maintained throughout.

"The book has 55 chapters, but you can start reading it virtually anywhere! Each section of the book has extensive cross-references to relevant places in the book. The cross-references are not only limited to the text but also found in the example code. The use of blue ink to print cross-references means that they catch your eyes quickly. The 'screw' and 'bomb' icons alert you to be careful with the particular feature being described. There are summary boxes in many sections. The accompanying CD-ROM has many useful scripts and programs that are described in the book. Presence of the code on CD-ROM is indicated by its own icon.

"Although a first look might lead you to think that this is just another manual-type book, it won't take you long before realizing that it is in fact quite different from a manual. The emphasis throughout is on teaching how to do things rather than what various commands and options mean. For some utilities whose expositions might require a separate book, the authors teach enough details to get you started doing some useful work.

"After a whirlwind tour of the UNIX system in chapter 1, Part 1 of the book begins at chapter 2. Chapters there deal with preliminaries like logging in and out, passwords, terminal settings, shell variables, home directory structure etc. Part 2 goes into details of the shell. Adequate treatment is given to different shells. There is a separate chapter here on redirecting input and output.

"File-system is the theme of Part 3. You will learn how to manage and back up files, create archives, find files using 'find' command, etc. File security and alternate ways to get disk space are also treated. Part 4 continues to deal with files but the focus is more on the data that comprise the files. Pattern matching, spell checking, file searching and other utilities are illustrated.

"Part 5 is devoted to text editing. It starts with a long chapter on 'vi' followed by another one. You will learn some very 'cool' tricks here. In a different chapter, GNU Emacs is treated. 'perl', 'sed' and 'awk' have their own chapters. Part 6 teaches how to manage processes. It also talks about delayed execution of commands and performance issues. Part 7 deals with terminals and printers. You will find a checklist here about what to do when your terminal is messed up. The chapter on printing is also reasonably big.

"Part 8 deals with the shell programming. There is an introductory chapter followed by an advanced one. There is also a chapter on shell debugging which should be of great help. The 9th and final part deals with some miscellaneous things like online documentation, calculators, calendars etc. It also has a short glossary in the form of chapter 55. The index is well designed and thorough.

"Reasonable price is just one more reason why you would like to buy this book.

"Minor quibbles. In section 9.02, the 'screw' icon should have been used because the incorrect command accidently overwrites the file. Each section ends with initials of the author(s). (This is because in addition to the three principal authors, there are quite a few people who have contributed to parts of the book.) I would have preferred a separate author index to give credits to various people.

"In short, no serious user or programmer of UNIX should be without this book."

--Arunprasad P. Marathe, PhD student, Department of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. (c) Arunprasad P. Marathe 1996


"The first thing one notices about UNIX Power Tools is its size. It is large. It is hefty. It weighs in at about four pounds (even in paperback). It's almost two inches thick. There's a lot of it: 32 pages in the table of contents alone; 1,059 pages of terrific text, an 11 page glossary, and a 47 page index!

"Bigger is not always necessarily better, but in this case bigger is fantastic.

"If you have ever been the guru at a site or the 'hot shot' system administrator then you've answered dozens of user questions like 'How do I move 20 lines from here to the middle using vi?', 'How do regular expressions work?', "Why does my shell start so slowly?' and dozens more -- the answers to which are learned only in the school of hard knocks (along with the subtle complexities behind the first-order answers). This book answers those questions and hundreds more.

"Want a quick intro to source-control? See pages 366-375 (both SCCS and RCS). Want to be an expert on the find command? See page 302 and 303. Want to see clever shell tricks you can use today? -- check out Chapter 1.. The list, while not endless, is nearly so.

"This book has all the 'tricks' in it that one accumulates after years of trial-and-error in learning how to get real leverage out of using UNIX-style systems. If you're a user who is not intimidated by UNIX's building block philosphy, this is the book for you. It includes warnings on how the tools will abuse you if misused (warnings in boxes with a lovely rendering of a screw). It even includes a CDROM with all the scripts from the book! Who could ask for more?

"I like the way the authors gave not only their own points of view, but also quoted those who dissented (whether from personal correspon- dence or from the net). I particularly enjoyed their typographical conventions: the margins include cross-referecnes and CDROM cross- references; they use blue type inside the text for cross-references. This book is clearly lovingly crafted and must represent years of gathering tricks, tips, and hints.

"I've asked a dozen people how they like the book -- the answer was universally positive. I love the book. I learned a couple tricks on my first browse through it. If you use UNIX frequently, you can increase your leverage the first time you read one of the book's 54 chapters. I keep it in my reading room for those times when one wishes to check out a quick 2-3 minute section of a book or magazine.

"If you're a UNIX guru, you can probably learn new things too. And if you'd like to be a UNIX guru, this is the book for you. If you're intimidated by command line and the 'UNIX Philosophy,' this book will seem esoteric; skip it in favor of something more your flavor.

"Is it worth the price? It is a good deal on a price-per-pound of book basis or price-per-page. It is a great deal if you use the CDROM that's included. But most of all, it is a fantastic deal if you want to learn to leverage our time and become more productive in your work. Rush out to buy this one -- it's great!"

--Rob Kolstad, ;login, May/June 1993

"Have you ever wanted a UNIX reference that was easy to read and understand and did not treat you like a child? How about a reference that touches all corners of using UNIX, including the areas that you are supposed to be born knowing? Well, Unix Power Tools provides this and more.

"A small volume, relative to the amount of information it contains, the 1,119-page text is full of tips for both the newest users of UNIX and the experts who have been using UNIX for over a decade.... The authors...have combined text from README files, Nutshell books, and Usenet postings from 32 other contributors. The list of contributors reads like who's-who of the Usenet: Chris Torek, Gene Spafford, and Jonathan I. Kamens are just a few.

"When I started flipping through the book, the first thing I noticed was the layout. Each section is numbered, concise, and short. The longest is about two pages. Another stand-out is the large number of cross-references. There are two interesting symbols that are used throughout the text: the Screw Icon and the Bomb.

"The Screw Icon indicates that you should, as the authors say, 'Be careful with this feature, or you might get screwed.' The Bomb indicates that another section describes problems you may encounter using the tip. As the authors put it: 'You can think of the bomb as a cross-referenced screw.' These two symbols provide a pretty accurate introduction to the light-hearted approach this book takes.

"This book has an incredible cross-referencing system. Using different fonts and colors, any program mentioned in an article is given a cross-reference to another section or sections that contain a more detailed description of the program. Think of it as a hypertext book....

".... This book is definitely not one that you want to sit down and read from cover to cover.... pick a chapter with an interesting title, and look through it. Each section is easy to read, and can be understood in a few minutes....

"While I have not read the entire book...the sections I have read are superior to anything I have seen in a long time. I have already incorporated several of the tips into my shell and use them daily. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who is learning UNIX and does not have a guru to watch and ask questions of, and to the user who already has a strong background in UNIX and wants to learn more. The gurus of gurus are the authors of this book, so there is something for everyone."

--Chris Curtin, hp-ux/usr, July 1993

"How can you describe the movie you saw last night to someone? `Well, it was really good!' doesn't quite make it. That is much the same problem we have trying to describe Unix Power Tools, O'Reilly & Associates, by Jerry Peek, Tim O'Reilly, and Mike Loukides. This multi-pound volume is not only physically heavy, it is philosophically weighty also. In fact, it fosters the same beliefs and principles that
The Guru magazine has been espousing for several years now. Unix is for everyone, it is fun and easy to learn, and you don't have to be a programmer to become a `power user'. Truth be told, we built many of our basic tenets on the original Nutshell series of books published by O'Reilly & Associates in the first place, so this book was a natural for us to read and use.

"The book claims in various descriptions of itself to be `loosely structured', but this is really not true at all. In fact, it is very highly organized, or at least divided into logical sections. What is meant by loosely structured is that you don't have to read it from start to finish. To the contrary, after you finish reading the Introduction (which you should most certainly do), the first page of Chapter Two tells you to `stop reading, and start browsing'. The book is oriented toward this approach,and the longer you own the book, the more you will see how good an idea this is. By browsing, you find new and exciting things all throughout Unix and don't get bogged down or bored by any one topic.

"There is a strong bent towards the C Shell and Kornshell and the SUN O/S and SPARC station setups, however, at every possible point throughout the book, the authors have made sure to show the appropriate code for System V and the Bourne shell.

"There are some areas of Unix that are not covered. The authors removed large sections on Unix communications and X Windows. The simple reason given was lack of space. This volume is roughly 1100 pages already, and it was felt that those two subsets of Unix might be treated better in single references. They mention a few, but it would be nice if O'Reilly & Associates put out the definitive Power Tools for Unix Communications and Power Tools for X-Windows just to keep our toolkits balanced. Besides, this book comes with a compact disk that contains all the important scripts and programs used within the pages. The programs can be gotten at slight extra cost but, as the authors say, more and more software is being released on CD, perhaps now is the time to get one. We agree. Put the money you would have spent for different media toward a CD-ROM instead. You'll be glad you did....

"The material on the disk can be retrieved from a compact disk attached to a DOS system and migrated over to your Unix system, but there is a complete install script provided, should you have the ability to actually mount the CD and run it.

"When we first asked the publisher if we could print a few excerpts for the review, we never considered picking one piece from every chapter. But as the time for picking something representative out of the book drew nigh, the chore become harder and harder. No single piece stands by itself as a specially suited hint or tip. Actually that is the beauty of this book; the overall package and widespread variety of information is what gives it its appeal and usefulness. Here are thousands of suggestions, explanations and programs from some real Unix gurus, not the self styled ones who you see flaming on the net and hear braying at trade shows, but solid, acknowledged masters like those authors who have been putting together O'Reilly & Associates books for over a decade...."

--The Guru, April 1993